Non-Vegetarian Diet and Its Health Effects | Free Essay Example

Non-Vegetarian Diet and Its Health Effects

Words: 2259
Topic: Diet & Nutrition
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Prewriting for the Theses

One specific experience that helped to produce my opinion

In the count down to the Copenhagen conference on Climate Change, there was heated debate around the globe on the need to stem global warming and what the best approach to the issue is. Personally, I always blamed those with big gas guzzlers, factories, and general deforestation around the globe for climatic change. I was reclining on a couch listening to a BBC Radio program known as “world have your say.”

I was attracted to the program because they were discussing global warming as a phenomenon. The question was, ‘is this phenomenon a hoax or a reality we need to address now.’ One caller into the program caught my attention; he suggested that to stem global warming, we should start by killing all cattle on the globe. This was not exciting because I really enjoy my meaty meals. However, his explanation got me thinking, and I am now convinced that we have to stop eating meat if we are to survive as inhabitants of the earth.

Reasons for or specific examples in support of my belief about the issue.

  1. The food an individual consumes determines his or her level of health. A diet of meat has more fat than a vegetarian diet. Overconsumption of fat is the reason why many Americans are struggling with overweight or obesity issues
  2. Livestock management is resource-intensive and contributes heavily to global warming. Becoming vegetation would help save the scarce resources on earth and avert climatic change.
  3. Vegetarian practices would contribute heavily to greener environments. Livestock consumes a lot of vegetation and also lead to deforestation for the purposes of creating pasture land. Becoming vegetarian would mean less consumption of vegetation and ultimately making the world greener.
  4. Health is more than just physical wellness. The choice to be vegetarian is necessitated by the need to leave this world better for the next generations. Knowing we have done all in our capacity towards this end is gratifying psychologically than otherwise.

At least two opposing viewpoints on the issue (which person or groups might Disagree with my position)

  1. Some people are generally opposed to diet restriction, arguing that such restrictions renege on human freedom.
  2. Some other people may think that personal habits have minimal contribution to global warming.
  3. Due to technological advances, if cow farms are releasing many emissions, we can rely on meat generated in labs rather than becoming vegetarians.

One reason to support each opposing viewpoint from C.

  1. Personal freedom is an important aspect of human living. We believe in people being free and making their own choices. Therefore, even in matters of diet, people should be left free.
  2. Eating the right quantity and quality of meat in itself is not harmless. The focus should be on what really is causing mishaps or problems.
  3. If it is possible to produce meat using other means, then there is no need for individuals to become vegetarian.

I want my peers to do in response to my argument

  1. I hope to help my peers understand the relation between meat-eating and global warming
  2. I hope to persuade them towards a change of eating habits that are irresponsible or contribute to putting human survival in jeopardy.

Thesis

Becoming vegetarian is the most powerful contribution any of us can make towards mitigating climate change.

Plan of Argument

Diet is an expression of human freedom and responsibility

There is a direct link between meat-eating and global warming

In consideration of health, we have to look beyond physical wellness to psychological and moral wellness.

Support

  1. Diet is an expression of human freedom and responsibility
    1. There are people who argue that diet restrictions or specifications are a ploy to renege on personal freedom.
    2. As discussed by Nestle Marion (2007, 82), In the case of obesity, many have been blaming the big food companies and fast foods for their problems. It is true that the proximity of food and food content plays a big role in accentuating obesity. The sugar content in the foods sold and the way of preparation have often been cited as great contributors to overweight problems. Food companies package food in an enticing way. Fast food cafes are all over, which means that one can access a bite whenever one feels like munching something. The center for consumer freedom looks at it very differently (Nestle, 2007, 58). Ultimately, it is the individual who picks whatsoever food and eats. The food companies do not force anyone to eat certain foods; they are just in business. Although the foregoing points are debatable, in essence, the capacity to choose what to eat from what not to eat is a true manifestation of personal freedom. We exercise true freedom when we have options. The capacity to choose one alluring option from another of closer magnitude due to well-stipulated reasons is what personal freedom is about.
    3. This is why, as Williams and Schlenker (2003) Indicates, food-related problems are referred to as eating disorders. Those who have an eating disorder or eat unhealthily are not exercising their personal freedom; they are sick. To find health, people often have to be helped to appreciate personal freedom towards being more careful in choosing what they eat. Healthy people choose food, not merely basing on taste but value. Therefore, the choice against meat or consideration to become vegetarian so as to safeguard generation to come from rough weather is only possible with a certain level of personal maturity.
  2. There is a direct link between meat-eating and global warming
    1. As stated by the International Vegetarian Union (2009), the food and agriculture organization of the United Nations has established that “livestock contribute more to global warming than transport, producing 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.” The world food organization is concerned with food security in the world. Its interest is not to posit any sloppy theories for partisan interest but rather to guide the world towards food security. When it proclaims that meat processing and livestock rearing is a number one contributor to global warming, there must be a level of acceptable evidence supporting the claim.
    2. ABC news (2006) quotes scientists who carried a research and concluded that what people ate contributed to global warming more than the gas guzzlers that people drive around.
  3. In consideration of health, we have to look beyond physical wellness to psychological and moral wellness.

Houghton (1997, 141-146) discusses in depth why we need be concerned about global warming. The idea is that although we of this generation will not suffer the bigger effects of global warming, we have to consider the generations to come. He calls us to a moral consideration of being fair to the generations to come.

Lodge (2000) discussing the moral theory of Plato shows clearly the interconnection between the physical, moral and emotional self in guaranteeing an individual a healthy existence. It follows that health goes beyond physical well being to encompass moral and emotional self. Unless we are attentive to moral considerations, there is no way we are to be a healthy society.

Conclusion

Global warming is a reality that needs urgent responses. Politicians, scientists and activists are doing their bit. However, much ground can be covered if individuals took personal initiative and responsibility towards alleviating the aggravating effects of climatic change. Becoming vegetarian or lowering meat consumption seems to be a simple choice all human being can take which will radically contribute towards lowering carbon emissions.

Final Draft of the Essay

I recently listened to a radio program that awakened me to the reality that the diets we take as individuals have an impact on the earth as a whole. Diet is often understood in the light of being mean towards oneself and not enjoying what would otherwise be yummy dishes. This conception is erroneous and leads to formation of attitudes towards foods. Often things are as we think them to be. For example, the same event is experienced differently by different people.

This results from people thinking differently about the same happening. Change anything, our way of thinking about it has to change or we have to think further. Yummy-ness as an attribute of food is more of a conception in the mind than a reality. Proper choice of diet is a manifestation of personal freedom rather than a manifestation of limitations to personal freedom. As we all know, freedom always comes with responsibility.

In 2006, Food and Agricultural organization released a report linking meat consumption and global warming or climatic change. In the report, it was argued clearly that the process of producing food for livestock is very labor and resource intensive. Some of the required resources or materials come in the form of herbicides and fertilizers. According to the report, as discussed by the international vegetation union (2009), it takes more that 10 billion Kg of fertilizer to produce animal feed on the US farms. The amount of food a cow consumes on a daily basis is too much compared to what a single human being consumes.

Much of the food sold around the world is processed food. The procedure of processing food sold around the world takes more energy than the energy in the food itself. Somehow, the world can not avoid relying on processed food. However, relying on crops as a source of food is cheaper than relying on meat. Research, as presented by ABC News in 2006, indicates that Animal proteins require more energy to process than plant proteins; animal protein production takes ten times more energy to produce.

One would argue that the whole population becoming vegetarian would mean the extinction of livestock; such an argument has some weight. However, it is my take that human beings will continue to rear livestock, not for consumption but maybe as pets.

A shift in the reason why livestock is reared would definitely reduce the number of animals each individual may want to rear. People will devote more energy to the production of plants that are nutritious and highly recommended. Loosing livestock would be a better option than hanging on them, aggravating climate change, polar bears becoming extinct and in the end, the survival of human beings and livestock being challenged.

Already crop failures all around the world are on the rise. Crop failure means even the livestock has no food. Generally, the whole food web is disturbed or broken by crop failure. How is this related to need to become vegetarian? Of course, one would argue that as some scientists have suggested, meat can be generated in the Laboratories. How safe is meat generated in laboratories? I am convinced that strange diseases especially cancers are on the increase as a result of human experiments.

The meat generation in laboratories would need or require use of energy. As already discussed, food processing uses more energy than energy in the food itself. The generation of meat in the laboratory would definitely require use of more energy than what is applied in the processing. Therefore, generation of good through lab cultures threatens human survival even more than the global warming we are alarmed about.

The more livestock reared on earth, the more methane and carbon emissions. The cow farms in the US contribute substantially to the emission of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. The cow farms thrive on the money of those of us who consume meat. In some parts of the world, deforestation is done in the name of affording livestock pasture land. Trees are crucial in sustaining life because they purify the air by absorbing carbon while releasing oxygen into the air.

If the whole population chose not to eat meat, the cow farms would be deprived of cash that is enabling them to thrive. Some people may contend that the contribution of personal habits towards global warming is minimal. However, it is the cumulative contributions of individuals that are aggravating the situation. The need to consider personal habits in relation to global warming can not be wished away; all measures towards averting this danger are better engaged now or never. Tsunamis or hurricanes have increased considerably and the danger of another one occurring looms every day. The countries at sea level are likely to be submerged sooner than imagined if water in the ocean continues to rise.

In conclusion, when considering the health issue, our focus can not be limited to physical wellness of individuals. One would argue that by eating the right quantity and quality of meat, one runs no health risk. Eating the right quantity would mean eating less meat or more vegetarian diets, which is what I am advocating for. Meat has more fat than plants and fat is the cause of all obesity related complications. However, moral health requires that we consider the ultimate consequences of our actions. For the human race becoming vegetarian is not a question of mere good health and ill health, it is actually a choice between life and death.

The process of acquiring meat which consists in having cow farms, then meat processing plants, then meat handling or selling plants does more harm to life on earth than sustaining life. Rearing cattle requires large tracts of land on which the cattle graze or from which their plant is grown. Often such land is acquired through deforestation activities. The livestock farms themselves are a great source of harmful emissions due to animal waste management processes. In solidarity with generations to come, becoming vegetarian and encouraging others towards the same is the only choice we have as individuals.

Reference List

ABC News. (2006). Meat-Eaters Aiding Global Warming? New Research Suggests What You Eat As Important As What You Drive. Web.

Houghton J. T. (1997). Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

International Vegetarian Union. (2009). Meat Eating and Global Warming. Web.

Lodge, R.C. (2000). Plato’s Theory of Ethics: The Moral Criterion and the Highest Good. New York: Routledge.

Nestle M. (2007). Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health 2nd Ed. California: University of California Press.

Williams, S. R., Schlenker D. E. (2003). Essentials of Nutrition and Diet Therapy. 8th Ed. Oklahoma: Elsevier Health Sciences.